‘Princes’ in Talks for New Throne

Jul 25, 2005  •  Post A Comment

“The Princes of Malibu’s” run on News Corp.-owned Fox abruptly ended last week after only two of six episodes aired. But in an unusual deal, the series may show up on another News Corp. network, sources said last Friday.

News Corp.’s upstart cable network Fox Reality, which launched in May, was negotiating with “Princes” producers GRB Entertainment at press time to take on the remainder of the show’s run.

“Princes,” a half-hour reality show focusing on composer David Foster, his wife and his two adult stepsons, aired twice on Fox in the Sunday 8:30 p.m. (ET) time slot. The third episode was not expected to air July 24 on Fox, but it was unclear whether a deal would be completed in time for the show to appear that day on Fox Reality.

The deal being hammered out would call for Fox Reality to air the show in its original Sunday 8:30 time slot, sources said. Making such pacts is one of the key strategies the network-currently available in approximately 18.5 million homes-is actively pursuing. The idea is that the new channel can build its programming slate by offering time-shifted episodes of series that are currently airing on other networks and new episodes of series that can move to Fox Reality from other networks without interrupting production.

Representatives of Fox and Fox Reality declined to comment, and a spokesperson for GRB did not return calls by press time.

The first episode of “Princes,” which aired July 10, earned a 2.8 rating in adults 18 to 49, according to Nielsen Media Research. The second episode the following week dropped to a 2.0 rating.

News of the show’s potential change of networks comes amid speculation raised in publicist Michael Levine’s electronic daily newsletter that Mr. Foster and his wife, Linda Thompson, have recently split, due partly to stress created by the show.

The news also follows word that the Fox Reality network’s competitor Reality 24/7, backed by industry veterans Larry Namer and Kay Koplovitz, shuttered all operations last week.

Fox Reality is Fox Networks Group’s 10th national network. It is poised to reach more than 20 million homes during its first year of operation, joining a select few networks that have accomplished that feat, a spokesman said. By way of comparison, the most widely circulated networks, such as USA and ESPN, reach over 80 million homes.

Fox Reality either has acquired or is negotiating to acquire shows from the Big 4 broadcast networks and beyond, bringing in first-run syndicated series, cable series and international reality series that have never aired in the United States. Fox’s “Joe Millionaire,” NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” and the syndicated series “Cops” are among those titles, the spokesman said.

Also on tap are international productions of American hits such as a French version of “Joe Millionaire” titled “Greg Le Millionaire.”

The network is producing interstitials to complement its lineup of past hits, giving fans a closer look into their favorite reality shows, the spokesman said. “Reality Revealed” segments feature interviews with reality stars.

Network executives plan to premiere new programming the fourth quarter of this year, including original series and updates to existing series.